Psychonauts 2 Review

Psychonauts 2 Review – Worth the 16 Year Wait (PS4)

Psychonauts made its debut on Xbox in 2005, hitting PlayStation 2 a couple of months later. The 3D platformer has become a cult classic and has been republished on many different platforms since. While Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin continued the saga on PSVR in 2017, the adventure game wasn’t the sequel for which many fans were hoping. Now the long-awaited Psychonauts 2 aims to fill that need, but is it worth the 16 year wait? Well yes, yes it was.

The story of Psychonauts 2 continues right where Rhombus of Ruin left off. There’s even a catch up cutscene to bring all players up to speed. The Psychonauts have managed to rescue their Grand Head Truman Zanotto and capture his kidnapper, Dr. Lobato, but they don’t know the mastermind behind it all. They come up with a scheme to interrogate Lobato by entering his mind and sending the recently-recruited Psychonauts cadet Razputin Aquato to follow him. As usual, nothing goes smoothly. What starts off as a seemingly normal office environment turns into a bizarre world full of giant teeth, dental drills, and gangster tooth fairies, something that would strike fear into any dentophobe.

Psychonauts 2 Review – Deep Inside the Brain

Loboto’s interrogation is the first of many brain levels and this is where the game shines. Each level has a unique theme based on that characters mind and is laced with the wacky deprecating humor only Double Fine can produce. There’s a casino crossed with a hospital level in the mind of a doctor turned gambling addict, resplendent with bright neon lights, roulette wheels and games whose impossible odds must be overturned using Raz’s psychic powers. Another example is a level that’s a throwback to hippies of the swinging ’60s; its psychedelic colors seem like the artist sneezed in a rainbow palette and the theme is best witnessed for yourself.

The common factor between the levels is the same basic enemies trying to stop Raz from achieving his goal. For example, angry bespectacled Censors attack thoughts that don’t belong in the brain with a banhamme,r while Regrets, moths weighed down by anvils, will happily use their burden to squish foes. They’re easy to take down, but the challenge comes in the boss fights that end some of the brain levels. These are the most diverse and interesting enemies where players need to work out the right combination of powers to use and when to dodge attacks in a multi-stage battle. The battles always feel balanced and are never a barrier for progression for long.

Psychonauts 2 Review

Raz is armed with a variety of psychic skills to take enemies down and progress through simple platforming puzzles. Familiar abilities like Clairvoyance, Psi-Blast, Levitation, and Telekinesis all return from earlier titles, but there are also new skills Raz will acquire as he makes his way through the game. Pyrokinesis sets fire to most objects within a small surrounding area, while Mental Connection allows Raz to connect to stray thoughts and reach otherwise inaccessible areas. All of these skills can be upgraded as Raz levels up and they’re all fun to use, although only four can be mapped to the shoulder and trigger buttons at once. Remapping the skills can feel a bit clumsy and occasionally frustrating when you forget which button they’re now on or don’t have the right skill ready to go.

The game is an old-school 3D platformer at heart with hundreds of collectibles to find throughout each level. Figments are brightly colored line drawings of anything and everything fitting the mind of the character you are in, and Raz levels up once for every 100 players collect. There are nuggets of wisdom and emotional baggage to be tagged, all of which also contribute to increasing Raz’s skill levels. Finding the comically dancing half-a-minds increases his mental energy, while opening up the memory vaults by force unlocks extra back story to many of the game’s characters. Not all of these can be collected during the first playthrough, as levels often require players to return with new skills to get to all of the areas.

Psychonauts 2 Review – Is That a Giant Eye?

When not invading other characters’ brains, Raz is wandering around one of the game’s hubs. Here he can free roam and explore, testing out his powers and interacting with characters. Some of those characters need help and will give Raz side missions. There are also plenty of different collectibles to find here too, with psi markers and psi cards helping the cadet to level up. Meanwhile, supply chests contain a decent supply of psitanium, the game’s currency used at vending machines to get various upgrades and other useful objects like health items and wallet upgrades.

Completing the storyline will take most players between 10 and 12 hours. However, collecting every single one of those collectibles and completing side missions will easily push that time over 20 hours. Most players will find enough collectibles through natural play to get enough upgrades to get through the story comfortably. An impressive variety of accessibility options also opens the doors for a whole variety of players, whether it’s color-blind options, resizable subtitles, or even just turning off combat for those wanting to enjoy the story. While death will be inevitable on default settings, checkpointing is friendly and deaths offer no real penalty other than a few minutes of lost progress.

Psychonauts 2 Review

The platforming is accurate and incredibly responsive for the most part, although there were the odd moments I got stuck in the map after falling somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. The camera is never a problem, always offering a perfectly clear view of where Raz needs to go. The only real downside to the PlayStation 4 version is the loading times and occasional stuttering and stalling immediately after, even on PS5. This last-gen version was never going to run as well as its Xbox Series X/S counterpart, and while playing the game on PS5 will go some way to alleviating these issues, it isn’t the same as having a true native PS5 version.

After 16 years of waiting, though, Psychonauts 2 more than makes up for lost time. It’s a glorious return for the franchise, one that should keep existing fans happy while being perfectly welcoming for new players. Let’s just hope we won’t have to wait a similar amount of time for the third game.

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  • Well designed levels laced with humor
  • Accurate platforming with a responsive camera
  • Old-school 3D platformer for the modern age
  • Plenty of accessibility options
  • Loading times are long
  • Remapping skills can become irritating